Stories in philanthropy

Why we need philanthropy champions

Philanthropy Australia President, Alan Schwartz AM, calls for more visionary Australians, from all business sectors and backgrounds, to join the impact movement by using their private wealth for public good.

Alan Schwartz, AM,  5 December 2017


Within the social change ecosystem, philanthropy plays a critical role. It has the capacity to act as risk capital for new ideas, initiatives and experiments that have the potential to spark positive outcomes for some of our toughest social challenges.

While philanthropy in Australia is growing, I don’t believe it’s increasing fast enough. I say that in my capacity as a philanthropist and an entrepreneur. We need more visionary Australians, from all business sectors and backgrounds, who are prepared to join the impact movement by using their private wealth for public good.

The impact movement includes investors seeking social impact as well as profit, entrepreneurs pursuing positive social outcomes in tandem with robust business results, for-purpose organisations delivering the services that are so critical to the under-served areas of our community and of course philanthropists, for whom grantmaking is increasingly just one facet of the social change equation.

I am an ardent believer in the need for more and better philanthropy in this country. And I’m not alone. As part of a new initiative to grow giving, Philanthropy Australia has launched Philanthropy Champions, a program that invests in the leadership and capacity of the philanthropic sector today to ensure a more giving tomorrow.

Each Philanthropy Champion (they number 18 at the time of this week’s launch), is a committed advocate for more and better philanthropy. The former, because each Champion sees the latent potential to grow giving in this country; the latter because, as any practicing philanthropist will tell you, there are always abundant lessons to be learned and new ways to enhance impact.

The Philanthropy Champions are one part of Philanthropy Australia’s focus on leadership and advocacy to achieve more and better philanthropy. In July 2018 we’ll see the annual Australian Philanthropy Awards presented at the Sydney Opera House, recognising and celebrating best practice, and our biennial national conference will further the conversation in September. These initiatives are bolstered by our ongoing policy and advocacy work with government. Taken together, these activities are designed to shift the dial on the level of giving in Australia so we can see more of the change we need if we are to address the social and environmental challenges we confront as a community.

Among the founding Philanthropy Champions are names you’ll recognise, and others you might not. They each pursue their own philanthropic paths in the cause areas that are dearest to them. Though some may not regard themselves, or their foundations, as leaders in philanthropy, their commitment to building and extending our nation’s philanthropic infrastructure makes them so. They’re not only champions ‘of’ philanthropy but also champions ‘for’ philanthropy.

It’s critical that we refine and maintain a tax and regulatory environment in Australia that supports and incentivises greater philanthropy, but equally as important is that we build a culture of giving. Building and integrating a philanthropic culture will take time, broad participation and education. It will take concerted effort to bust the myth that philanthropy is a pastime for ultra-wealthy retirees.

Modern philanthropy comes in many shapes and sizes, from grassroots collective giving circles through to multi-million dollar mega gifts. Regardless of the size of the gift, the intent is the same: to make a difference. As philanthropy becomes more accessible and less mysterious, I hope that in five years from now, we are recognising and celebrating Philanthropy Champions who come from all parts of Australia, representing all ages and stages of life but sharing the same commitment to making our world a better place.


Philanthropy Champions

Collier Charitable Fund

English Family Foundation

Gandel Philanthropy

Hunt Family Foundation

McLeod Family Foundation

Paul Ramsay Foundation


Portland House Foundation

The Caledonia Foundation

The Ian Potter Foundation

The McLean Foundation

The R E Ross Trust

The Sky Foundation

The William Buckland Foundation

Tim Fairfax AC

Trawalla Foundation

W&A Johnson Family Foundation

Wheelton Philanthropy


Alan Schwartz AM is President of the Philanthropy Australia Council and Managing Director at Trawalla Group.

Learn more about Philanthropy Australia's Champions for more and better philanthropy here.


This story was first published on Pro Bono Australia.

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